The Shepherd’s Crook

In Memory of

My beloved husband


Born Nov. 11th, 1821

Died June 28th, 1871

A kind and thoughtful



…..Beloved sleep


1823 – 1902

The rounded-top white marble gravestone of Edward and Isabel Handy in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., has the all-seeing eye below billowing clouds carved into the top of the marker. At first glance, it could be the gravestone of a Mason.  A second look, however, reveals the most recognizable symbol of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows—three links.  That distinguishes it from Masonic imagery, though, the two fraternal organizations share many of the same symbols.

According to the Half-Moon Bay Odd Fellows Ocean View Lodge 143 website, the all-seeing eye “represents the universal spiritual presence that is embodied in all of us as we do good work for our community, for our environment, and for all mankind.”

On either side of the shield bearing the gravestone’s inscription are shepherd’s crooks.  In 2016, the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, exhibited a number of artifacts related to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows titled, Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. The exhibit was curated by Stacy C. Hollander and displayed two golden shepherd’s crooks.  According to the exhibition label, “The crook, as the “staff of the shepherd,” is associated with the Odd Fellows Encampment Degrees. These degrees have rituals that tell stories of a shepherd’s life. The curved head is used to reach after and draw a member back to safety as part of the ritual. The members recognize the crook as a symbol of watchful care, which they are expected to exhibit toward other members, family, friends, and their community.”

The Congressional Cemetery website has a search engine for the directory of people buried at the cemetery.  Edward Graham Handy is listed in the index along with the following bit of information: “On the 28th instant, Edward G. Handy, aged 50 years. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral from his late residence, 300 A street southeast on Friday at 4 o’clock p.m.

Engraved on the stone is the name Isobel P V. Handy.  However, the Congressional Cemetery Index lists her name as Isabel Yelverton Peyton Handy and the following information about her, “On Sunday, February 9, 1902, at 2:36 p.m., Isabel Yelverton Peyton Handy, widow of Edward Graham Handy, daughter of Joseph Walker and Elizabeth Ogilvie Laurie Beck and mother of Dr. Wm. E. Handy and Mrs. Jos. B. Austin. Funeral from her late residence at Hyattsville, Md., Tuesday, February 11, at 12 am. Interment private. [Evening Star, Monday, February 10, 1902, Page 5].”

The middle of the gravestone is very badly eroded and some of the inscription is not discernible.  However, the Congressional Cemetery Index lists another burial associated with this gravestone: Edward L. Handy, who died July 1, 1913.  The index gives no other clue to the who this is or details regarding his burial.


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